Cisco says mobile traffic approaching zettabyte milestone

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Mobile traffic will reach almost a zettabyte per year by 2022, according to Cisco’s latest Mobile Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast.

The forecast reckons that by 2022, mobile traffic could represent nearly 20% of global IP traffic and reach 930 exabytes annually. That's almost 113 times more than all the global mobile traffic generated in 2012.

In 2017, there were 5 billion mobile users worldwide, but over the next five years, that number will increase by half a billion, according to Cisco’s forecast. This represents about 71% of the global population.

The analysis finds that by 2022, mobile networks will need to support 12 billion mobile-ready devices and IoT connections (up from 9 billion in 2017).

As operators strive to improve mobile networks’ performance, the average speed of the networks globally is set to increase more than three-fold from 8.7Mbps in 2017 to 28.5Mbps by 2022.

5G to treble traffic

Cisco predicts that by the end of the forecast period, 5G connections will represent over 3% of total mobile connections (more than 422 million global 5G devices and M2M connections) and account for nearly 12% of global mobile data traffic.

Further, by 2022, the average 5G connection (22 GB/month) will generate about three times more traffic than the average 4G connection (8 GB/month).

Wi-Fi dominates

Despite the growth in 5G, Wi-Fi will still be the way most people connect to the internet, according to Cisco.

It predicts that 59% of total mobile data traffic will be offloaded to Wi-Fi, compared to 54% in 2017, and that 51% of total IP traffic will be transmitted over Wi-Fi (20% mobile).

Globally, the number of Wi-Fi hotspots is set to grow over 400% between 2017 and 2022, from 124 million to 549 million.

LPWANs on the up

The company also projects an increase in usage of low-power, wide-area networks (LPWAN). By 2022, it expects LPWANs will support 14% of mobile devices, up from 1.5% in 2017.

Jonathan Davidson, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Service Provider Business, Cisco, said, “As global mobile traffic approaches the zettabyte era, we believe that 5G and Wi-Fi will co-exist as necessary and complementary access technologies, offering key benefits to our enterprise and service provider customers to extend their architectures.”